Everybody’s pal Christine Gregoire gave a pep talk to the Washington Realtors last week in which she made some interesting comments.
Gov. Chris Gregoire told about 400 Washington Realtors on Thursday that she has been working to meet goals the group has for transportation, affordable housing, education and quality of life.
Gregoire, who spoke a day after Republican gubernatorial challenger Dino Rossi went before the group, cited a report in Fortune magazine and said the state is a good place to do business. She also offered encouragement for an industry slowed amid recession fears.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Gregoire said, quoting former President Franklin Roosevelt and referring to national recession fears. “It is a very frustrating time, I know, for you, and it is for me. … I’m struggling to get the message out to Washingtonians. The economy is strong. Buy your home.”
Addressing the politically powerful Washington Realtors, the Democratic governor said she sometimes wishes people wouldn’t watch the evening news because of all the “doomsday” talk of a home mortgage meltdown and a pending recession.
Gregoire said that in actuality, the state economy has seldom been so strong, with record low unemployment, 222,000 new jobs created in the past three years, and national publications praising the business climate here.
She conceded that the national news is having a psychological effect on home buyers, even though there are relatively few mortgage failures here.
“This is a very frustrating time,” the governor said, adding “Our economy is strong — buy your home. … There is no good reason for a slowing of home purchasing in the state of Washington today.”
Now why do you suppose Mrs. Gregoire would promoting the idea that Washington State residents go out there and throw caution to the wind, ignore the warning signs of declining prices, and jump into that real estate market right now? Obviously one likely reason is the usual pandering of politicians telling people what they want to hear. In this case, the people in question are a room full of “professionals” whose income depends on
suckers consumers continuing to buy homes all the way down the declining price slope.
I think there may be another reason though. I think Mrs. Gregoire may really be on the Realtors’ side here, not just talking the talk. Here’s a story that appeared in yesterday’s P-I… (emphasis mine)
Gov. Chris Gregoire and leading Democrats in the House and Senate have reached one early agreement in this year’s budget negotiations: It’s time for a reality check.
Anticipating a bleak revenue forecast, they’ve agreed to start looking for places to trim the $33 billion budget they passed last year. They say they want to have their priorities in order in case the slowing economy forces them to find efficiencies or even cut programs altogether.
Gone are the halcyon days of a skyrocketing real estate market and a ballooning economy that had led to back-to-back-to-back upward adjustments in the state’s revenue forecasts.
And gone is the free and easy feeling about spending, the unflinching commitment to “targeted investments” that Democrats have enjoyed for the past three years.
Gregoire already has called for frugality this election year and has asked lawmakers to adopt her budget that leaves $1.2 billion unspent.
But her budget also calls for $244 million worth of new spending.
Is it really any surprise that Mrs. Gregoire, who has overseen a 33 percent increase in state spending since taking office (source), would want people to ignore the “doomsday talk” and just buy, buy, buy? What do you suppose has enabled spending to increase by so much? Could it perhaps have been the high-flying home prices and red-hot pace of home sales in 2004-2006 (every one of which puts more money into the state coffers)?
And now Mrs. Gregoire wants us to ignore reality so she and her pals can fund their pet projects. Yeah, that sounds like a great reason to keep this bubble alive. Who’s with me?